imeem, i’m sayin

Talk about too much music. Was readying a post on all the pods I cast (or subscribe to, that is), but then I get pointed to a Soca 2k7 playlist on some mysite called imeem —

The soca 2k7 are verrrrrry r and b. I thought it would be
interesting for your work. The soca sound is now soooo
mellowed out. I’m really surprised. Every song on this list
departs from the traditional soca 1000mph beat. [thx, lis!]

— and before I knew it I’d spent a couple hours listening to lovingly compiled playlists of reggae, reggaeton (incl a whole playlist devoted to up-and-veniendo reggaetonero Arcangel), bachata, and various forms of local/regional/DIY hip-hop (like, whoa), incl Chicago’s own lo-fi, fruityloopy, ghettotechy song’n’dance — juke.

Considering the genre’s relative low-pro — esp in comparison to similar scenes/sounds (e.g., Bmore clubb, D-troit g-tech, Yay Area hyphy, ATL crunk) — I was struck by the number of juke playlists I found while browsing imeem. It seems that one of imeem’s more interesting, distinguishing features is that a significant (majority?) segment of the community sharing and commenting on various content there seems largely to be, to put it frankly and slightly awkly, black and brown and, in the words of the policy wonks, underprivileged — people more typically relegated (in the imagination and reality) to the other side of the digital divide. (For overlapping and contrasting perspectives, see, e.g., reports from the Nat’l Poverty Center, the NYT, the Nat’l Telecom&Info Admin as well as, why not, pomo sociology.)

But, getting back to juke, I’m sayin: who can resist the joie de bump of them uptempo bpms, poppin’/distortid bass kicks, dirty dance mantras, (Down)South/side accents, and bloop-bleep synths’n’samples — to wit bit, check BabyGurl’s playlist devoted to the productions of DJ Clent, which she glosses as “chi-town juke music for dem goonz that footwurk and juke.” I recommend esp tracks #1, 2, 11, 12, — which demonstrate some serious creativity, stylistic mastery and experimentation, and flair — and without a doubt #5-7 (for some rilly nice nostalgic bangers, riffing on vintage video games and ice-cream-truck music). I also recommend headphones; cpu-speakers will not do justice to the bass (nor does the mp3pression, but what are ya gonna do) —

And if you like Clent’s stuff, u’ll prolly dig other juke tracks too. Check, for example (below), how “tha” Pope’s “Work Dat” (#8) radically recontextualizes yet again Solomon Linda’s 1939 zulu bomber, or how Dj apollo gets DUM on some Sanford and Son (#17) — never mind the mindnumbed allure of (feminism forgive me) “Kswiss Juke” (#10), long as you listen like it’s on some ol’ Steve Reich loopsurdity // ? —

— or the audible connections to classic traxxic house and maybe stepping too (“Chicago Juke Slide,” #14 below, #2 above), not to mention Miami-Detroit bass-tech party chants ad infinitum (#16 below) —

imeem, i’m sayin: who needs the RIAA to help such artists make a living by doing what they do? (No one better tell Lil Weezy, tho, that he’s got mad songs up over there.) F’real: Tell me where I can hear/cop this stuff around town, and I’ll gladly support the efforts. Zen-carts, right? (&plz[helpme]tell the urban-bass-dance spinnsters how they might purchase a track or two for Serato and such, and I’m betting — or hoping/suggesting — that they’ll be happy to slide some change that-a-way.) Chicago’s enduring segregation patterns and drastic contrasts in stds-of-living don’t necessarily make it as easy for juke artists to reach a broader (richer) audience and thus keep “eatin” as well as they say they are (I believe ya) —

— but the opportunities are there (esp as digitally mediated), and increasingly, and — if we work to make it happen — conditions can continue to change in the right direction, to enable activity and advancement not against the odds (hate the game) but against the strictures and structures of institutionalized racism. These meem (as well as other __spaces) seem to point in that direction as much as they already bear witness to a vibrant, creative, interactive, self-directed cultural movement with a momentum all its own. knameem? knomesprayin?

photo by swanksalot

cross posted to the riddimmethod